Here we go! This is the beginning of my journey through manuscripting the whole dang Bible. This blog will be a place for me to share with you things I am seeing and learning and things in my that change as a result of my “little” project.
This afternoon I sat down at my kitchen table with Genesis 1 printed out and placed neatly inside a 3-ring binder. I have new pens and a new pen case. Honestly, I felt like a kid getting ready for the first day of school. And that is exactly what the check-out lady at K-mart said to me as I bought it all.Hopefully the two scented candles threw her off a bit.
I lit a candle and brought out the reference material I would need: IVP’s Old Testament Background Commentary for important cultural context info, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and a KJV Bible. After a moment of prayer and silence, I dug in.
One of the first things you learn in Manuscript Studies is to make good observations. Before we can figure out what the text means, we have to see what it says. This involves making note of things that may seem trivial and unimportant but that can end up having a huge impact on our understanding of the text.
Today I decided to count words and phrases. I wanted to see exactly how many times certain words and phrases came up. I have never studied Genesis 1 like this before but I have read it many times so I know there are a lot of repeated phrases. Looking at repeated words has often given me clues as to what a certain passage of book is really about. If you want a good example of this, check out the video below.
I love that thing. It makes me want to study Exodus. But that probably won’t happen for while given how long I will spend on this first chapter. But I digress . . .
Many phrases are repeated either seven times or three times. And occasionally one appears 10 times (7+3). This doesn’t surprise me all that much but it still is interesting. But there is one thing that does jump out at me.
(See the update at the bottom)
The word “light” occurs 12 times.
Twelve is an important number. It specifically (later in the story) is the number of the tribes of Israel. It is the number of the Disciples of Jesus. So why have light mentioned the same number of times? Well, I have a theory.
Is it possible that when the Jewish people remembered their story, they were supposed to associate themselves with light? Is the story crafted in such a way that it is always going to remind them that they are created to be the light to the nations?
Because that would be awesome.
Buried in the story of the creation of the world, hiding beneath even the amazing affirmation of being created in the image of God Himself, is the ever-present echo that they were created with a purpose. They were lights in a dark place. They were going to shine the light of love and grace and truth to a world that desperately needed it.
So my prayer as I go to sleep tonight is that I would remember that I am made to be a light in this world and that I would embody this identity.
Update: After closer inspection, the word “light” appears 13 times. Not 12. Bummer. Someone needs to pay more attention and learn how to count! There goes that theory!